The Eyes Have It

Apologies for not keeping up with your posts today, but I spent a long time at the eye clinic this morning. After two years of waiting, I finally received an appointment for the Glaucoma clinic in Norwich, and attended at 10:30 this morning.

There is no parking there, so it involves driving to Dereham and parking the car, then getting a bus for the forty minute journey into the city. The clinic is not attached to the main hospital, and is in a side street a short walk from the bus station.

On arrival, you check in and wait for your name to be called. Then a technician takes you in for a prolonged eye test. First without wearing your glasses, then with them on. You read out what you can see on the chart, but they don’t tell you if you succeeded in ‘passing’ the test. What follows is a ‘Visual Fields’ test. You have to stare into a machine, one eye at a time. Looking intently at a small bright orange light, you are given a small button to press every time you see a white light flash anywhere inside the screen.

After a while, you are imagining lights where none exist, and forgetting to click the button when you see an obvious one. This takes some time, and once again you have no idea of your success rate.

Then it is back to the waiting room, until you are called in by the Specialist Eye Nurse Practitioner. In that room, your internal eye pressure is taken, after anaesthetic drops have numbed your eyes so that you do not feel the device touching them. Once that is all over, you are allowed to ask how you are doing. My results were encouraging.

Eye Pressure. Good, and less than it was last time. The daily eye drops seem to be working.
Eye Test. Vision good with glasses, less so without. To be expected. No new glasses prescription required.
Visual Fields. In the ‘acceptable’ levels for my age, but far from perfect.

I asked about my cataracts, and was told that they are ‘minimal’ and do not currently require surgery. I was also told that I will not need another appointment for at least a year. Before leaving, I had a painless eye scan in a different room, with a different technician.

By the time I waited for the bus home and then drove back from Dereham, I had been gone for three and a half hours. Ollie was ready for his walk, and fortunately the sun shone, despite a cold breeze.

This evening, my eyes feel sore and tired where they were ‘prodded’. That is only because the anaesthetic had time to wear off of course. They should be fine tomorrow.

As hospital visits go, that was a good one. And it was free of charge, on the NHS.

I will catch up with everyone tomorrow.

Late Sunday Musings from Beetley

I am late with my musings today, as I cannot really post them without mentioning the situation in Ukraine, which is on everyone’s mind I’m sure. But I will leave that until the end, so if you don’t want to read any more about that, feel free to skip that part.

After two years, the NHS is finally beginning to catch up on the backlog of regular clinic appointments that were all cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have an appointment at the eye clinic in Norwich next Thursday, for a review of my Glaucoma, and an inspection of my cataracts. As they like to poke things into my eyes when they do that, I refer to it as ‘The medieval torture clinic’. But after more than two years, I am happy to go.


After three weeks, the DVLA has still not sent my new driving licence, and they have also not confirmed whether or not they will be renewing it. That Department is a bureaucratic behemoth, and someone I know spent over three hours on hold to them on the telephone this month, before being cut off without speaking to anyone. Small wonder so many people in the UK just choose to drive illegally.


Julie still has her persistent cough, but she was able to go back to work last week. It has calmed down during the day, but still waking her up at night.


As for Ollie, it seems his fur has grown back as much as it is ever going to. We will have to learn to live with his bald spots, I reckon.


The very latest news on Ukraine is that Putin is now activating his nuclear weapons stockpile, supposedly in fear of NATO striking Russia first. All nonsense of course, but nonsense can start real wars. Beetley is near a lot of military installations. A large Army barracks is located just 2 miles away, at Swanton Morley. RAF Marham is 20 miles west, RAF Mildenhall is 39 miles south-west, and the huge USAF base at Lakenheath is 32 miles south of us. Given that at least three of those are designated Russian ‘targets’, if I stop blogging suddenly, you will know what has happened.


Refugees are pouring out of Ukraine, and being treated kindly by all the surrounding countries. But Britain has refused to issue visas to any of them to come and live in the UK.
So much for Boris, Liz Truss, and Pritti Patel, with their hollow speeches about soildarity with the people of Ukraine. They can still buy our guns and missiles though, let’s not allow a war to get in the way of big business.


Julie is no longer watching the news as I type this. She has changed channels to a programme about antiques.
Probably just as well.


An Eye-Opening Experience

In praise of the NHS.

I had to attend for my annual eye clinic appointment today (Tuesday). They have moved the clinic from the main hospital in Norwich, to a specialist facility close to the city centre. I got a bus in, and arrived in good time. I have to go, as I have Glaucoma. This is a condition where the fluid in the eye builds up pressure, and can be a cause of blindness, if not treated. I use eye drop medication on a regular basis to suppress this pressure, so have to have an annual check, to make sure it is still under control.

When you are there, they also carry out a normal eye test, a visual fields check, and take photos of the inside of your eyes. It takes about an hour to have all three tests done, as well as the pressure test. That involves anaesthetic eye drops, so that a probe can be pushed against your eyeball, to measure the pressure. Then more drops widen your pupils, so that they can look inside with a magnifying lens, and an incredibly bright light. None of it is painful, but it is quite weird to have to be conscious, and watch something coming straight at your eyes like that.

When I arrived at the new clinic today, I was suitably impressed. Almost no queue, smart surroundings, and a very calm and soothing atmosphere. It was obviously a private facility, easy to tell that as soon as the receptionist welcomed you on arrival. The young lady who did the general test asked me to take home a customer satisfaction form, so I asked her if it was a private organisation. She told me that it was a privately-funded venture, directly employed by the Eye Department of Norwich Hospital. As their waiting list was so large now, and they do not have enough specialist doctors, they have decided to outsource these essential annual checks.

I moved on to see the optometrist. Not a doctor, but a Glaucoma specialist and diagnostic expert. He was very professional, and friendly too. Happy to chat about anything, and taking his time over the procedures. He discussed his findings at some length, and told me that he would be writing a report to the hospital consultant, appraising him of the results, and his own opinions. After just over an hour, I was finished and back out on the street, heading for the bus station.

For those of you who have asked me about this issue, and shown much appreciated concern, there was some good news. The optometrist advised me that a new prescription for my spectacles would alleviate most of my current symptoms. Although I have cataracts visible in both eyes, only the right one is big enough to be considered for surgery, and not just at the moment. The pressures were normal, and if anything, the left eye is still virtually 20-20, with only the right eye causing any concern. So, if I can avoid surgery, and improve my eyesight by buying new spectacles, then it is all good news.

It is worth noting that this was all 100% free of charge, covered by my years of paying a small amount into the NHS via National Insurance deducted from my salary. If for some reason I never paid into this, (as a full-time housewife, for example) it would still be free. Even the bus to and from the hospital was free, courtesy of my senior citizen bus pass. And although I will have to pay something for the new spectacles, the optician’s eye test will also be free, as I am a pensioner. The continuing need for eye drops will also cost me nothing, as I am over 60.

So, well done, the NHS. You are very good indeed, at least as far as I can see.

(Apologies for the shameless puns, in both the title, and the last line)

The process of ageing

Today it was time for my annual appointment at the eye clinic. I was diagnosed with glaucoma some years ago, and have to have my eyes checked as a result. Luckily, I have the disease in a mild form, and regular use of prescription eye drops makes sure that the internal pressure in my eyes remains low. I got the bus from Dereham, across to the main hospital just on the outskirts of Norwich. This takes a circuitous route through some nearby villages, and it was nice to see a different view of them, from the elevated position on the top deck of the double-decker bus. It was also the first use of my concessionary bus pass, which allows free travel on buses. (Once I had turned 62, in 2014.)

I was seen very quickly, considering how packed out the clinic was this afternoon. A standard eye test confirmed that my varifocal prescription is still current, so I could move on to the next step, being examined by the eye doctor. Shown to another very full waiting area, I was once again surprised to be called in after less than ten minutes. The pleasant lady doctor then arranged my head into the frame, before commencing the series of necessary tests. These can be unpleasant sometimes, but drops of local anaesthetic are inserted first, so it is more uncomfortable than painful. A device is rested against your open eyeball, to measure the pressure, This is far more accurate than the familiar puff of air used at the high street optician. I have to have my eyelid held open by the doctor during this procedure, as otherwise I will surely blink, and ruin the test.

Following this, a series of magnifying lenses are held in place on the eyeball, and intense lights shone though them. This enables the doctor to see the back of your eye, which she then compared with photos taken last year. Both results were encouraging. The pressure was stable, and there were no changes at the back of the eye either. This meant that I could forego further tests this afternoon, and have them next year instead. At the end of the consultation, I asked the doctor if she could tell me why I was finding it so difficult to drive at night. This aversion to driving in the dark around country lanes has always been there, but over the past six months, it has become a real issue. The oncoming lights are more dazzling than ever, and I find it difficult to make out junctions, once I have been almost disorientated by the lights of approaching cars. “That will be the cataract in your right eye,” she casually replied. “We could remove it with surgery, but best to wait until your left eye is as bad, and we will do them both around the same time.”

Hold the phone! Cataract? I know 63 is far from young, but I have always associated cataracts with people in their eighties. As well as that, my Mum had a bad situation following cataract surgery that left her almost blind, for the rest of her life. I expressed all this to the doctor. She added that I was about the ‘right age’ to detect the problem, and that both eyes will almost certainly have to be done, ‘before the age of 70.’ Going on to cheerfully inform me that, “all surgery carries risks, however minor the operation.” Up to that moment, I had been feeling pretty good. I thanked her for her honesty, and her careful treatment, and wandered out to the bus stop in the hospital grounds.

I spend a lot of time joking about getting old, but history has really caught up with me today.